The meeting agenda included increasing the availability and improving the quality of government services in education, healthcare, employment and social protection.
A package of federal and regional measures aimed at this goal was drafted as part of the National Social Initiative (NSI) that the ASI is implementing in accordance with the President’s instructions.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today we are holding a joint meeting of the State Council Presidium and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. I propose that, in this expanded format, with Government members present (whom I can see on the screen), we thoroughly discuss specific steps towards the implementation of the National Social Initiative.
The purpose of this socially significant project is to improve the social sphere, make it more customer-oriented and calibrate the processes involved, based on people’s needs and demands.
I should start by saying that people do not care about technical, administrative or organisational issues. It is more important for them to get high quality and timely help, with the professionals who provide this help not having to deal with any issues either. This is what we must accomplish. For example, we must make sure that doctors and employees of educational institutions and social services do not have to deal with excessive paperwork or red tape but instead can give their full attention to people.
I asked the ASI and the appropriate commission of the State Council to thoroughly review, as part of the NSI, specific problems in the social sphere – literally examine, step by step, every possible situation that a person or a family may find themselves in. For example, enrolling children in a nursery or a school; getting medical help in an outpatient clinic or applying for disability; searching for a job or getting professional development through an employment centre.
In cooperation with the Federal Competence Centre, non-profit organisations, and civil society institutions, our colleagues worked on the ground in the regions, such as Novgorod, Kaliningrad and Nizhny Novgorod regions, the Republic of Bashkortostan and on Sakhalin.
I know that you have been meeting and talking with people, parents, senior citizens and people who have impaired health. It is on the basis of public opinion that you have identified the ten most sensitive and most common life situations that people deal with, and outlined specific goals and practical steps to tackle existing problems. Today we will, definitely, discuss the proposals you have developed as a result of this work.
Colleagues, I would like to note that the Agency for Strategic Initiatives will soon be 10 years old. The National Business Initiative has become your main project that boils down to the removal of normative, legislative barriers and restrictions for business. It is in the areas where your agency, the business community, and, most importantly, all levels of government pooled their efforts that it became possible to make tangible progress and achieve noticeable, I would say, weighty results.
For instance, owing to the launch of digital services and the large-scale introduction of advanced technologies, tax procedures have become more convenient, let us put it carefully, for people in general and for entrepreneurs. Colleagues, now you also always adhere in government activities to the key principle of working for the benefit of the people. I am sure you will use this principle in the future as well and will establish control over it as well as over the implementation of the National Social Initiative.
I have recently been to a new control centre that the Government has set up. I believe the new instruments that you have created will further help you achieve tangible practical results in this work.
Let me repeat that it is most important for the Government, the ASI, the State Council and its relevant commissions, and, of course, onsite management teams to pool their efforts. At this point, I would like to address my colleagues and governors of the Russian Federation. Friends, real improvements in the performance of specific institutions – schools, outpatient clinics, rural health posts and employment centres – primarily depend on your responsible approach and people should see such changes for the better very soon.
I think you must focus on the following areas.
First, of course, the problems people are facing are certainly not limited to the life situations and topics we will discuss today. It is necessary to constantly look for where there is still room for drastic improvement in the work of social institutions so that they meet the highest standards and requirements of our people.
Secondly, following the analysis of the life situations faced by people, I would like to ask the Government, in cooperation with the State Council commissions and the ASI to study attentively delegated legislation, departmental letters, orders, instructions and other documents in the social area. In this respect, your approach must be explicitly clear: it is necessary to resolutely get rid of pointless requirements, unfounded, excessive red tape procedures, and absurd norms and rules, everything that wears out and, let us be straight, even humiliates people, dismantling the teams of social institutions and demotivating them. This is destroying them professionally, reducing the efficiency and quality of their work.
The third thing I would like to point out is the following. I am aware that yesterday members of the State Council Presidium visited an employment centre and an outpatient clinic in Moscow, and that they did not just inspect how they work but also held an in-depth discussion of their experience at a special seminar organised by the State Council and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.
I have no doubt that the other constituent entities have devised interesting solutions in the social sphere. Our colleagues informed me about them during our personal meetings. Therefore, we must expand the format of exchanging experience and competencies and develop direct interaction between regional teams. I am asking the relevant State Council commissions to sum up the best practices so as to be able to help the regions, working jointly with the ASI, to implement effective solutions at their educational, healthcare and social services facilities and employment centres.
Fourth, I would like to ask the ASI to pay special attention to supporting regional development; greatly increase the scale and geography of these projects, and, while analysing real-life situations in the social sphere, also to take measures in the other fields that are directly related to the quality of people’s life, doing this in close coordination with the State Council commissions, as I have already mentioned.
I would like to point out that the National Social Initiative is a vital tool that must become an effective instrument of attaining our social development objectives. The most important of them is a better quality of life for the people in big cities and small towns and all over our huge country. Of course, we will be assessing the efforts of each region to improve people’s well-being as objectively as possible, as I mentioned on numerous occasions, based on public opinion, surveyed during large-scale sociological polls, among other things.
In this context, I would like to ask the ASI to develop, jointly with the State Council Commission on State and Municipal Administration, a methodology for ranking the quality of life in constituent entities, and to report on the results of this annual ranking at the next ASI Supervisory Board meeting.
Let us get down to our agenda. I would also like to add that everything we will be discussing here will be a major stage of preparations for the upcoming Address to the Federal Assembly. Of course, today I would like to hear proposals and ideas that could be used as a basis for our short-term development plans and for our immediate joint actions in the vital sphere of social policy.
Vladimir Putin: At the very end, I would like to say literally a few words.
First, as regards our discussion today, we have indeed prepared a draft list of instructions that I hope the ASI, the regions and the federal centre will carry out. I am referring to the funding of the projects we have been discussing today.
What Nyuta Federmesser has been talking about just now is very important, especially when she says this is a piece of cake and that is a piece of cake. Indeed. However, to make everything so easy, we must deal with yet another vital area – culture. Only by having the most attentive attitude to history, to the moral and ethical values of our peoples, the peoples of the Russian Federation, and by relying on cultural values will we be able to achieve the best results in our joint efforts to improve the performance of the social sphere.
This is what I would like to say in conclusion.
The Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) did well in realising the goals of the National Business Initiative. I am hoping you will achieve the same results in the social sphere.
Naturally, we are far from having resolved all the issues in business. There are still a lot of outstanding issues there. However, the social area is a more complicated sphere of our joint work. Primarily, because it concerns a much larger number of people, practically every citizen of our country. Secondly, this sphere is more complicated, with many areas of development, with intertwining interests and big problems that have been created over decades, I think, since the Soviet times. Yet, we must still borrow the best practices from there. Take, for instance, the system of broad healthcare opportunities that we were actively developing during the pandemic.
Here are some points I would like to note in this context.
First, the situation in every region is different. I looked at the draft list of instructions. There is a point about methods. Yes, we need methodology. It is perfectly obvious that we must promote the best practices.
Indeed, our colleagues said the situation in every region is different. It is different in every country. They said in the beginning that many people in Russia do not consider our healthcare system effective. There are grievances about education and all of them are justified. However, if you look at sociological polls in the leading countries, say, of the EU, you will see the same picture. Believe me, look at these figures. This is open information.
That said, we must not be guided by their successes or failures. We must meet the requirements of our own people and respond to the real situation. Let me repeat: the situation is different in every country and every region. Therefore, we need methodological recommendations but they must reflect understandable criteria.
Here is a simple example. The key performance indicators at employment centres can be figured out – the T2, T1, T something else, we need to see what it is. This should be simpler so that people understand what it is all about – how many people came to the employment centre, how many found a job through this employment centre, and how many are satisfied with the service provided.
I am not even talking now about, perhaps, an even more complicated sphere such as healthcare and educational institutions. My colleagues have mentioned preschools, schools and the healthcare system in general.
In this regard, I would like to say the following. When ASI was working on the National Entrepreneurship Initiative, what did you do? What were you doing on your own and together with representatives of the business community? You walked in their shoes, all the way an entrepreneur usually goes. In fact, it was like a “test purchase,” as they used to say at law enforcement agencies. It was actually the same thing.
This is more difficult, of course, because there are many more areas of activity here. I would like to ask the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and my colleagues in the regions – you certainly do not need to personally oversee enrollment to a school or nursery, or how procedure is followed at a clinic or hospital – but a few trusted persons can do this. This should benefit your subordinates. I am not sure that agency statistics are always objective. See for yourself what is happening there in real life, on the ground. Follow this path. And it will immediately become clear where people encounter specific problems. You will also figure out ways to resolve them, including modern methods that were mentioned here today, such as artificial intelligence.
I would like to encourage all of you to take some very specific steps, including working with the people to get feedback. And to do this, you will certainly need to work both with the people directly and with public organisations.
This, I believe, is even more important in this sense perhaps than implementing ideas concerning the entrepreneurial initiative. Here, it is absolutely necessary to contact specific people, and public organisations, including the Russian Popular Front.
I would like to thank you for the work you have done. I will try to use all this – I will not just try, but I will definitely use it in my Address. And we will finalise the list of instructions and adopt it, so that we will have guidelines for achieving our goals.
Thank you and all the best.